Ireland and the Irish, it is often argued, have been mired for centuries in mindsets which employ the past in order to trace and justify the enmities of the present. However, as Constructing the Past: Writing Irish History 1600-1800 seeks to underscore, the truth of such interactions with the Irish past is far more complex and dynamic. Spanning two hundred years of history, this book finds a relationship with the past which is as adaptive as it is rigid, as iconoclastic as it is reactionary.
Beginning with an Introduction by Roy Foster, this innovative volume incorporates a wide range of perspectives on how history in Ireland has been written and perceived from the early-modern period onward. Drawing upon both key moments - including the Cromwellian invasion, the 1688 Revolution and 1798, to name a few - as well as forgotten incidents, each article discusses the ways in which the presentation of the past in Ireland has been forged by the circumstances of its writers and context of those memories. Drawing upon contributions by both highly accomplished and up-and-coming historians of Ireland, Britain and Europe, Constructing the Past seeks to illuminate how the Irish past has been constructed, torn down and again rebuilt by the Irish and historians of Ireland alike.
STEPHEN PAUL FORREST serves as the Director of Operations for the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation; MARK WILLIAMS is currently reading for a Doctorate in Modern European History at Hertford College, Oxford.